If you’ve been convicted of a felony crime, you may have served your time in prison and may have paid or are struggling to pay significant fines. Unfortunately, in many cases, life doesn’t just return to how it was before your conviction. You may continue to feel the ramifications of your felony conviction for months and years to come: for as long as your felony conviction is on your record.
Consequences of a Felony Conviction
A felony conviction can have widespread repercussions beyond financial penalties and the loss of liberty. Being convicted of a felony can prevent you from being able to get gainful employment, and it can affect your qualification for certain housing accommodations. In addition, you may be prohibited from receiving some government benefits, including educational grants and aid. For as long as your conviction is on your record, government benefits agencies, housing companies, and employers will see it if they perform a background check.
Qualifying for Felony Expungement in Illinois
Expungement results in your criminal record being destroyed. There will no longer be a record of your name and your conviction in any public criminal record. But getting a felony expunged is reserved for only specific individuals and cases. If you have been arrested but not charged, or arrested and charged but not convicted, you may be able to petition for an expungement of your record. If you’ve been convicted of a crime, you are ineligible to petition for an expungement. You may be able, however, to petition the court to have your record sealed.
An exception to the non-conviction requirement for expungements in Illinois is if you were arrested or convicted of marijuana possession or distribution. If you were arrested, acquitted, or had charges dismissed or vacated for the possession or distribution of 30 mg or less of marijuana before June 25, 2019, and:
- You didn’t provide marijuana to a minor who was three or more years younger than you, and
- You weren’t arrested for a violent crime occurring at the same time as the possession or distribution of marijuana,
you are eligible to have your arrest automatically expunged. You will still have to petition the court to have the marijuana arrest expunged from your record by filing a Request to Expunge & Impound and/or Seal Criminal Records. If you were convicted of the aforementioned marijuana charges, then your conviction may be automatically expunged after a recommendation by the Prisoner Review Board.
On the other hand, when your record is sealed, your record is not destroyed. However, the public cannot view it. The only entities that will be able to view your conviction are law enforcement, the courts, and certain employers who require fingerprint background checks.
Some misdemeanor and felony convictions can’t be sealed. Convictions for most sexual crimes, minor traffic violations, DUI, reckless driving, domestic battery, violation of orders of protection and civil or stalking no-contact orders, and crimes against animals cannot be expunged. If you’ve already been granted the sealing of a prior felony conviction, you are also ineligible to have a new felony conviction sealed.
Process of Getting a Felony Sealed
To start the process of getting your arrest and/or record expunged or sealed, you must complete several forms and file them with the court in the county in which you were arrested and/or charged for the crime. The court may require you to attend a hearing to further review your expungement or sealing request and make a final determination.
At this hearing, you’ll present your case to the judge as to why your request should be approved. You should provide any supporting documents for your request, such as proof of the completion of an education or treatment program. You may also have to answer questions posed by the judge. The hearing will end with the court either approving or denying your request for expungement or for sealing your arrest or record. If approved, once the relevant agencies receive the court’s order, your arrest or record will be expunged or sealed within 60 days.
How We Can Help
The Illinois felony defense attorneys of Bruno Law Offices may be able to help you reduce the negative impact your felony conviction may have on your life. We have decades of experience not only helping clients fight their criminal charges, but we’ve also helped clients move on with their lives after their convictions by either getting their records expunged or sealed. We may be able to do the same for you.
We can help ensure that the process for requesting an expungement or sealing is followed correctly and assist you in court should that be necessary. Call us today at (217) 328-6000 or contact us online to discuss getting your conviction expunged. The consultation is free.